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Either Obama is the worst president since World War II, or Americans just have really short memories

The big political news of the day is the Quinnipiac poll that shows 33 percent of Americans say President Obama is the worst president since World War II -- the most of any president who served over that span.

The poll demonstrates Obama's problems -- which are many -- but it probably says more the American people and their nearsightedness.

As our own Philip Bump noted, the last time Quinnipiac asked the same question, in 2006, the American people also chose the current president, then George W. Bush.


Going back even further, this question has proven similarly unkind to those who have made the poor decision to be president too close to when the poll was conducted.

Here's are similar polls from Gallup in 1999 and 2000. Guess who just happened to place second? The guy who was in the White House! Bill Clinton even got more votes than Jimmy Carter, who to this day is basically the guy Republicans point to when they want to reference a bad Democratic president.

Back in 1998, ABC News conducted a similar poll, asking who was the worst president "in your lifetime." The deck was even more stacked in favor of the older presidents here (given younger people's short lifespans disqualified them), but it's still worth noting that the top four finishers were four of the last six presidents.


So while Richard Nixon was the worst president to 23 percent of Americans in 1998, he's now the worst to just 13 percent. While Reagan was at 17 percent, he's now at 3 percent. While Carter was at 13 percent, he's now at 8 percent. And while Clinton was as high as 21 percent, he's now all the way down to 3 percent.

Even Bush has dropped six points between 2006 and 2014. And we'd wager that he'll drop further in the years ahead.

None of this is to say Obama will one day be loved or that this poll shouldn't be at least somewhat distressing for a guy who is concerned about his legacy.

But if he's really stressing over this poll, he can take some solace in knowing that the passage of time will almost undoubtedly knock him down this dubious list.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.



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Philip Bump · July 2, 2014

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